Conspiracy theories gain attention through social media

Anna DeLibro, Reporter

Conspiracy theories can be a controversial topic, you either believe them, or you don’t.  Some theories have gained a lot of traction in the past year or so, thanks to popular videos on YouTube and Instagram accounts featuring theories like the Mandela Effect, celebrity conspiracy theories, and government suspicion theories.

If you haven’t heard of the Mandela Effect, it occurs when someone has a vivid memory that conflicts with a historical record of what actually happened. This theory originated from Nelson Mandela’s death, which happened on Dec. 5, 2013, but a large number of people remember hearing about his death back in the 1980s while he was in prison. Some people even remember seeing his funeral on TV. This got people thinking that maybe we’re in an alternate universe, or time travel has somehow messed up historical events, or that maybe we’re just losing our minds.

If you’ve never experienced this, here’s a couple of examples that might blow your mind. One of the most famous lines from Star Wars is “Luke, I am your father.” right? Wrong. Darth Vader actually says, “No, I am your father.”  I would think such an iconic movie wouldn’t sell merchandise with wrong movie lines on it.

Also, one of the most famous examples of this theory is from a book series you might remember reading as a kid, The Berenstain Bears. Multiple people remember “Berenstain” being spelled “Berenstein”. There are so many more examples of the Mandela Effect on websites like and YouTube channels like Shane Dawson’s channel. There are even accounts on Instagram that showcase multiple theories including the Mandela Effect.

Georgia Cowie (’20), explained she got most of her information from Dawson’s channel, and is a firm believer in the Mandela Effect. “All of the examples that have been found are so memorable and I feel like everyone I’ve talked to remember a certain event happening one way but it never did,” said Cowie.

The Mandela Effect is fun to think about, but what is the actual reasoning behind it? Skeptics say that memories can be distorted, caused by bias, association, imagination and even peer pressure. Ava Westerberg (’20) said, “I feel like these conspiracies are just a bunch of made up stuff to rile the public up.”

Perhaps the reason why people are confused about the spelling of Berenstain is because last names ending in “stein” are more common. Nelson Mandela’s death in the 1980s could have been confused with him being in prison for so long. Whether you believe it or not, this conspiracy theory unveils how many misconceptions humans can make about a certain topic. Whatever the truth really is, the Mandela Effect will never fail to entertain.